500 Indian peacekeepers awarded UN medals

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United Nations, July 4: As many as 500 Indian personnel of the UNpeacekeeping contingent in Congo have been awarded the MONUC medal fortheir efforts in bringing peace to their area.

The North Kivu MONUC Indian Brigade, which comprises three IndianBattalions, three Aviation Contingents, a Level-III hospital andMilitary Observers, had organised, for the first time, a combined MONUCmedal parade ceremony in Goma on June 28. The ceremony was attended bythe Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General William Swing,MONUC Director of Administration Ms Hazel Scott, and North KivuGovernor Julian Paluku, among others.

Mr Swing and North Kivu Brigade Commander, Brigadier Pramod Behlreviewed the parade, which comprised contingent from the Indianelements. A fly-over, comprising of MI-17, MI-35 and Cheetahhelicopters of the aviation contingents, gave an added touch to theceremony.

In his address, Mr Swing praised the leadership of the North Kivubrigade, both past and present, in bringing peace to the province. Hespecifically underlined the crucial role played by the brigade duringthe Sake episode, when ''swift and effective action averted a majorcrisis.'' The Secretary-General's Special Representative also conferreda ''mission citation'' to the North Kivu Brigade -- the first time thatsuch an honour was bestowed by MONUC since the peacekeeping mission wasestablished by the Security Council in 1999. He also lauded the crucialroles being played by the Indian aviation contingents, both in Northand South Kivu., and praised the services of the medical staff and themilitary observers associated with the Brigade.

Brigadier Behl, noting it was the first combined medal parade inIndian peacekeeping history, also mentioned Indias glorious role inpeackeeping since the early 1950s, and its total contribution amountingto almost a 100,000 troops to some 23 UN missions across the globe.

The United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republicof the Congo (MONUC) was established by the UN Security Council tofacilitate the implementation of the Lusaka Accord signed in 1999. Withmore than 17,000 troops and police, MONUC is the largest and mostexpensive mission in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO).


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